Why I never want to get rich

Together we fly

Together we fly

I never want to get rich. In fact, I think that if you’re rich you should be ashamed of yourself. And not only should you be ashamed of yourself, but you should also be very worried about the kind of person you’ve likely become.

When I mention to people that I never want to get rich, I always get a reaction of surprise from them, followed by the question of why not. It seems that in the world we live in today, most people are constantly looking for ways to earn more money and get richer, even if they already have enough to cover their basic needs and live a decent life. And this is one of the consequences of the societies we have around the world right now, where people are constantly encouraged to compete with one another. In these societies a person’s success in life is measured by how wealthy he is, instead of how valuable he is to the people around him and to society in general.

For example, an aunt of mine mentioned to an acquaintance a few years ago that I’m a very good software engineer. And her acquaintance responded by saying that in that case I should have already been owning a car. I didn’t own a car back then, and I still don’t. However, I was making enough money to buy myself a car if I wanted to, but it just wasn’t something that I felt I really needed to own. I like to live as minimally and simple as possible, and so far it’s always been more convenient and cost efficient for me to take a taxi, or in very rare instances to rent a car. But this example just goes to show you how people measure success these days. If you don’t show your wealth by spending lots of money, or by showing on social media channels how extraordinary your life is and where you’re traveling to all the time, or by wearing a lot of expensive clothes (preferably only once in public), or by owning a very big and expensive house that could be home to 2-4 families, or by owning a lot of expensive items that you rarely need, then you’re probably not successful.

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Nick Hanauer: You’re missing the point on inequality

Homeless Man (Photo © Matthew Woitunski)

Homeless Man (Photo © Matthew Woitunski)

Billionaire Nick Hanauer published an article recently on Politico warning his fellow “filthy rich Americans” that “the pitchforks are coming.” In his article, Hanauer discussed the inequality in America that’s getting worse every day:

At the same time that people like you and me are thriving beyond the dreams of any plutocrats in history, the rest of the country—the 99.99 percent—is lagging far behind. The divide between the haves and have-nots is getting worse really, really fast. In 1980, the top 1 percent controlled about 8 percent of U.S. national income. The bottom 50 percent shared about 18 percent. Today the top 1 percent share about 20 percent; the bottom 50 percent, just 12 percent.

But the problem isn’t that we have inequality. Some inequality is intrinsic to any high-functioning capitalist economy. The problem is that inequality is at historically high levels and getting worse every day. Our country is rapidly becoming less a capitalist society and more a feudal society. Unless our policies change dramatically, the middle class will disappear, and we will be back to late 18th-century France. Before the revolution.

And so I have a message for my fellow filthy rich, for all of us who live in our gated bubble worlds: Wake up, people. It won’t last.

While I am certainly pleasantly surprised by Hanauer’s apparent courage to openly disagree with his fellow billionaires — who “think he’s bonkers” – on the problem of inequality, his motivations for wanting to change the way things are going right now could have been much better. As Hanauer himself states, “the problem isn’t inequality” but it’s that “it is at historically high levels.” So Hanauer doesn’t have a problem with inequality per se; it’s just that it’s getting a little too extreme now. And these high levels of inequality threaten his empire and his (way of) life. So Hanauer’s motivation is fear. He fears the pitchforks that are coming, and rightfully so.

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Focus Selection in Adobe Photoshop

Focus Peaking Result

In focus areas are highlighted in bright red (after Focus Peaking Lines Only action). Read more.

It looks like we’re finally getting a feature in Adobe Photoshop we’ve long been waiting for: Focus Selection. A while back I had written a tutorial on focus peaking in Adobe Photoshop including some actions that are available for download (for free) that automate the process. They were far from perfect, but did a good job on most images. And I wondered:

Wouldn’t it be awesome if we had a selection feature in Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom where we could easily select only the areas of an image that are in focus? The way this would work is exactly like the “Color Range” selection process in Photoshop, but only instead of a range of colors, it would select a range of focus. It would start by selecting the areas that are sharply in focus, and you could then increase the range/radius to include more of the picture in your selection extending more to the out of focus areas.

I had sent an email to Adobe about this in 2012, and it looks like we’re finally going to have it in the next version of Photoshop. Check out the preview video below.

It won’t surprise me if we also get this in a future version of Lightroom in the form of a focus masking option for the adjustment brushes. That will be awesome.

I am Fake Chuck Westfall

Canon <3

Canon <3

When I decided to start a satirical blog featuring a fake version of Canon USA’s Chuck Westfall back in September 2008, I never expected that it would have gotten the exposure it eventually did. But a few months later, Canon Inc.’s lawyers tried to shut down the blog and get behind the identity of the author. Then all of a sudden a small blog that hardly anyone knew existed at that time became something much bigger.

It’s almost 6 years ago now since I started the blog on September 13th, 2008 and it’s time for me to move on to other things that I want to concentrate on. I think that it’s best to officially close the blog and move on instead of just letting it sit there without updates. I decided to also come out and reveal who Fake Chuck really is and answer some questions that I know many people will have about the blog so that there can be no confusion or misunderstandings in the future. In case you have additional questions that haven’t been answered here, feel free to post them in the comments below and I’ll answer them for you.

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On Human Nature and Morality: Humans are Intrinsically Good

Rage

Rage

Something that comes up often in discussions is the question of whether human beings are naturally evil creatures that need to be held in check with laws, either from the state and/or from a god, or whether they are intrinsically good. Those who believe that humans are intrinsically bad, claim that without any laws that tell people how to live and behave, and that threaten them with punishment if they don’t follow those laws, humans would be out of control and we’d be living in chaos. They point at their own negative experiences with people, and at examples of people in societies around the world who are jealous, deceptive, manipulative, violent and corrupt. And it’s true that when we look at the majority of people in societies around the world today, it really seems like humans have a lot of bad qualities and can’t be trusted. But is this naturally the case? And do we really need the state or a god to tell us how to behave correctly and to tell us how to live our lives?

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A Testimonial from JP Knight for my Photography Services

My second favorite shot, everything just works in this picture, especially the colors

One of my favorite shots from the Aerial Photography assignment for JP Knight

Richard Knight, who is the Managing Director at UK based river transport company JP Knight, just sent in his client testimonial for the work I recently did for his company. It’s one of the longest testimonials I ever received from a client, and you can read it below. :)

You would imagine that interpreting a client’s brief must be one of the toughest challenges that a professional photographer can face: and this brief was indeed tough. I wanted to show what an extraordinary environment we work in yet also the demands placed on our officers and crews. Having commissioned shoots this specific before, and having not got the results, I knew that being precise as to what was expected would be critical, but would ultimately still be an act of faith!

Well, Karel handsomely repaid that faith and more…

In his blog, Karel describes how he went about the two shoots in disarming and electric detail so I won’t go into that in this post because what really must be said and noted is the literally jaw-dropping images Karel captured.

Some history first though; JP Knight is after all 122 years old!

From the 1930s to the 1950s, JP Knight commissioned the celebrated photographer Beken of Cowes. His monochrome images have become some of the most iconic maritime images ever captured and the studies he made of our tugs from that era to this day defy description. They capture much more than the subject, more than just the light, they convey an emotion and a serious understanding of the subject’s environment. In my view such maritime sensitivity is only now matched in each and every one of those respects by Karel’s unbelievable skill.

But what is so remarkable in Karel’s work?

First, the lengths he goes to get ‘the shot’. We discussed plane v ‘copter, but Karel was insistent that paying that (little!) extra for the helicopter was the only way to capture with total clarity the images I sought. Act of faith number one. In fact the act of faith was his, as his vivid description of the waterline shot proves.

Second, Karel’s determination regardless of circumstance. The ‘industrial shoot’ really provided challenges. Torrential rain, awkward timings, working amongst a risk-strewn situation, coping with equipment failure: quite a list! Another act of faith – should we cancel? But no, Karel said he could do it despite the worst conditions. He was right.

Third, he captured the heroic nature of our crews, the focus and the will to deliver. Karel showed empathy with the men and like a great painter melded the circumstances to his advantage to create mood and atmosphere.

Karel is also a consummate professional in his business-like attitude. No grey areas, all costs are very clearly set out and agreed beforehand: no surprises, no extras.

Ultimately, Karel is that most elemental of photographers, a story-teller. He is a communicator – and isn’t that what a picture ultimately is? A story.

Richard Knight, Managing Director, JP Knight

Like I mention elsewhere on my website, more important to me than the financial compensation for the work I do for my clients, is the fact that I want my work to be of value and to benefit my clients and contribute to their success. And it makes me feel really good to know that JP Knight is satisfied and values my work so much.

If you’d like to read more about the work I did for JP Knight, check out my posts Aerial Photography for JP Knight and Industrial Photography for JP Knight. You can also read previous client testimonials by visiting my Testimonials page.

Industrial Photography for JP Knight

Industrial Photography for JP Knight

Industrial Photography for JP Knight

A month after doing the aerial photography assignment for JP Knight, it was time to do the second part of the project which involved industrial photography. The plan was to follow the crew under normal working conditions and document their activities in a photojournalistic style. So there would be no planned shots, no posing or directing and no extra lighting and other fancy equipment. We just wanted to show the crew doing their job as realistic as possible.

While planning I already knew that the most challenging aspect of this assignment would be to stay out of the crew’s way while doing my work and not distract them. And this proved to be true on the day of the assignment. In certain locations it wasn’t always easy not to stand in the way of the crew and get good shots. But as it turned out, this would be the least of my concerns. A bigger issue on that day was the bad weather.

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I was right about women all along

Broken, but not beyond repair

Broken, but not beyond repair

Not that I ever doubted myself, but I am now more confident than ever that my theories about women’s irrational behavior are spot on, and that I really solved the problem of why women are difficult to understand. When I wrote the first part of my Understanding Women series back in 2011, I knew I had solved an  important puzzle. But I didn’t leave it at that; I’m always challenging my own assumptions and theories, constantly checking to see if they still hold up as I continue my personal research. And this led to me eventually finding out about Dr. Wilhelm Reich in December 2013.

I was watching a documentary where Reich was briefly quoted, and that quote was so interesting that I had to immediately pause the documentary and google Wilhelm Reich. Prior to that I had never heard of Reich, and to this day I still can’t believe it took this long for me to find out about him. I do understand now why this happened; there was a lot of controversy surrounding Reich, and his research had been censored for a long time. And when you read some of his books, you’ll quickly understand why.

I was completely blown away by what I found while I researched Reich. He was a very brilliant man; we’re talking Nikola Tesla and Isaac Newton kind of brilliant. He even had “free energy” devices running based on a similar principle as Tesla’s. Reich already knew almost everything I have written about in my Understanding Women series over 80 years ago! For example, take the following quote from Reich’s book The Function of the Orgasm:

“Of the hundreds of cases which I observed and treated in the course of several years of extensive and intensive work, there was not a single woman who did not have a vaginal orgastic disturbance. […] The disturbance of the ability to experience genital gratification, to experience, that is, the most natural of what is natural, proved to be a symptom which was always present in women and seldom absent in men.
The severity of every form of psychic illness is directly related to the severity of the genital disturbance.” — Wilhelm Reich

This is basically the same conclusion I came to in the first part of my Understanding Women series – that women are difficult to understand because they suffer from psychological issues caused by the repression of their sexuality.

Not only that, but Reich was even able to uncover the primary purpose of all the sexual manipulation:

“Sexual suppression supports the power of the Church, which has sunk very deep roots into the exploited masses by means of sexual anxiety and guilt. It engenders timidity towards authority and binds children to their parents. This results in adult subservience to state authority and to capitalistic exploitation. It paralyzes the intellectual critical powers of the oppressed masses because it consumes the greater part of biological energy. Finally, it paralyzes the resolute development of creative forces and renders impossible the achievement of all aspirations for human freedom. In this way the prevailing economic system (in which single individuals can easily rule entire masses) becomes rooted in the psychic structures of the oppressed themselves.” — Wilhelm Reich

I came to similar conclusions myself in part 2 and 3 of my Understanding Women series. My research does go further than Reich’s with regards to the cause and purpose of sexual repression in societies around the world, but this is because today I have a lot more information available to me compared to Reich back then. There’s been a lot of research that came after Reich, and in formulating my own theories I of course benefitted from that.

I highly recommend reading Reich’s books The Sexual Revolution and The Function of the Orgasm. Every self-respecting psychologist and psychoanalyst should read those books. It’s astounding how much Reich was able to work out that long ago. While reading his books, I’ve had so many “holy shit” moments that I’ve lost count. Very often it was as if I were reading my own thoughts while reading his books. Needless to say, there’s not a shadow of a doubt anymore in my mind regarding the validity of my own theories as they are confirmed by Reich’s research.

It’s also interesting that many of Reich’s breakthroughs were due to Dr. Sigmund Freud’s work on human sexuality. Reich expanded on Freud’s theories and went where even Freud was too afraid to go. It seems like Freud eventually limited himself and his research because he wanted to remain accepted by society and didn’t want to get too controversial. Reich didn’t care about that; he fearlessly went wherever his research took him.

Similar to Reich, my own theories about women and sexuality are also based on the work of Dr. Sigmund Freud, and I often mention that in my Understanding Women article series. If you’ve never read my Understanding Women series, now is a good time to start doing that. And also don’t forget to read Reich’s book The Function of the Orgasm; it will change your life.

Aerial Photography for JP Knight

Another one of my favorite shots showing how the river cuts through the rainforest

One of my favorite shots from this assignment

Back in October 2013 I had the opportunity to do a very exciting assignment for UK based river transport company JP Knight. They wanted images of their operations here in Suriname, and from the beginning it was clear that we’d have to split the work in two assignments; one involving aerial photography and another for industrial type of images taken on the ground. With regards to the aerial photography, their objective was to show the beautiful environment they operated in (the Suriname rainforest), and specifically the narrow (but very deep) rivers with the often very tight bends, which require a lot of skill and experience to navigate through. The images would not only have to show these difficult situations but also communicate that the crew at JP Knight is more than capable of handling them.

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Yahweh the Barbarian

"Elohim Creating Adam" by William Blake

“Elohim Creating Adam” by William Blake

Like many people living today you probably grew up being taught that the god of the bible was a benevolent all loving god. You basically heard the same story almost everywhere around you; from your parents, your family, your friends, at school, in church, through various media — basically everywhere you went. And if you didn’t go anywhere, people would show up at your house just to make absolutely sure you heard about this loving god. As a child you were likely also taught not to question adults too much, or at all. Especially not if they were called “mother” or “father”. It was disrespectful. They were much older, assumed to be wiser with much more experience, and so anything they said to you was true. They knew better and knew what was best for you. So if they said that the god from the bible was all loving, then chances are that you simply accepted that as a fact and didn’t question it. And if you dared to question it, you knew that there would be (serious) consequences.

For thousands of years people have been religiously brainwashed in a similar way by the societies they were born into. For a child there was simply no escaping it, and this is still the case even today. By the time children have grown up to become adults with their minds contaminated by all the religious brainwashing, it becomes very difficult for them to question what they’ve been told to believe. And this is even worse when they’ve been brought up in an authoritarian society, with authoritarian institutions (like school and family) that punish them for (critically) thinking for themselves and questioning things too much. Having been conditioned as children to blindly accept and obey anything they get from authority and not to think for themselves, when people later become adults anything that goes against their programmed beliefs gets rejected immediately. Especially in this case where religion is concerned, where people have been warned growing up that it is a serious offence and sin to question god and anything from the bible.

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